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Mesothelioma Victims Center Now Appeals to All Diagnosed … – Yahoo Finance

NEW YORK, April 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Mesothelioma Victims Center says, “We are the top branded source on the Internet for ‘the best mesothelioma compensation for a US Navy Veteran’ who has this rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. US Navy destroyers have some of the highest numbers of Veterans who now have mesothelioma out of any other type of US Navy ships. This is interesting because these are not the biggest ships in the fleet, but manage to have some of the highest ratio of Veterans with mesothelioma.

“We are urging a US Navy Veteran to call us anytime at 800-714-0303 if they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. We will make certain they are talking directly to some of the nation’s most skilled mesothelioma attorneys that are experienced mesothelioma compensation legal experts and extremely well informed about US Navy Destroyers, the types of engine rooms/propulsion systems they have, and anywhere else on the ship where asbestos could have been present.

“We want a US Navy Veteran with mesothelioma to receive the very best possible financial compensation. No other group makes this offer, so don’t settle for less.” http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

Types of US Navy Destroyers Where A US Navy Veteran with Mesothelioma Could Have Been Exposed to Asbestos:

Total Number of US Navy Destroyers ships built between 1949 and 1982 was 90. Average crew size was roughly 300.

The Mesothelioma Victims Center says, “Before you hire a lawyer or law firm to assist with a mesothelioma compensation claim for a diagnosed US Navy Veteran whose exposure occurred on a US Navy Destroyer, or while the Veteran’s ship was undergoing a retrofit or an overhaul at a US Navy Shipyard in Norfolk, New York, Boston, Bremerton, San Diego, Honolulu, or Philadelphia please call us at 800-714-0303 to ensure you are talking to some of the nation’s most skilled and experienced full-time mesothelioma attorneys. Please don’t allow yourself to get shortchanged when it comes to mesothelioma compensation.” http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

For interesting information about US Navy Destroyers please take a look at the following website: http://www.destroyers.org/communication%20center/tin_can_trivia.htm.

The average age for a diagnosed victim of mesothelioma in the United States is about 70 years old.Because of their age frequently people with mesothelioma are initially misdiagnosed with pneumonia. This year between 2500, and 3000 US citizens will be diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is attributable to exposure to asbestos.

The states indicated with the highest incidence of mesotheliomainclude Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland,New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia,Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana, Washington, and Oregon.

However, based on the calls the Mesothelioma Victims Center receives a US Navy Veteran who was exposed to asbestos on their ship or at a shipyard and now has mesothelioma could live in any state including New York, Florida, California, Texas,Illinois, Ohio, Iowa,Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina,Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia,Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada,Arizona, Idaho, or Alaska.

High risk work groups for exposure to asbestos include US Navy Veterans, power plant workers,shipyard workers, oil refinery workers, steel mill workers,manufacturing/factoryworkers, pulp or paper mill workers, plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, machinists, miners, construction workers, insulators, rail road worker, roofers, or firemen. As a rule, these types of workers were exposed to asbestos in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, or 1980’s. US Navy Veterans make up about one third of US Citizens who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

The Mesothelioma Victims Center says, “When it comes to obtaining the best mesothelioma settlement, the quality of the attorney matters, as we would like to explain anytime at 800-714-0303.” http://MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

For more information about mesothelioma please refer to the National Institutes of Health’s web site related to this rare form of cancer: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mesothelioma.html

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Mesothelioma Victims Center Now Appeals to All Diagnosed … – Yahoo Finance

New Evidence Supports Post-Surgical IMRT for Mesothelioma Treatment – Surviving Mesothelioma

Just a week after New York researchers published their own study on radiation therapy and mesothelioma surgery, a group of doctors from Texas has reached a similar conclusion that highly-targeted radiotherapy can improve mesothelioma survival.

This weeks study was conducted by radiation oncology specialists atAustin Cancer Centers and Baylor Scott and White Health in Temple, Texas.

The team performed a retrospective analysis of 18 pleural mesothelioma patients who underwent radical lung-removing mesothelioma surgery between 2005 and 2014. They found that those who had hemithoracic (one sided) intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) lived longer than most people with the asbestos cancer.

Because malignant mesothelioma is highly resistant to conventional cancer therapies, it usually requires a combination or multi-modal treatment approach. Mesothelioma treatments may include (but are not limited to) chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, immunotherapy, cryotherapy, experimental drugs and others.

In their new report published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, the Texas team focused on a controversial mesothelioma surgical approach called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) followed by IMRT. EPP has come under fire in recent years because of the high risk of complications and death associated with removing a lung.

But the new report finds that, in the right patients, IMRT appears to improve mesothelioma outcomes following EPP. Mesothelioma patients in this study had a median overall survival of 38.2 months more than three times as long as most mesothelioma patients are expected to live.In addition, patients treated with this approach lived a median of 2 years before their mesothelioma tumors began growing again.

The study included 18 mesothelioma patients with a median age of 65. Four of the patients had chemotherapy prior to their EPP surgery and seven underwent chemotherapy afterward. Three patients had Stage I disease, twelve were in Stage III mesothelioma and the remaining three had Stage IV mesothelioma.Most of the patients received 45 Gy of radiation in 25 fractions with a median lung dose of 7.14 Gy.

At a three-year follow-up, eight of the mesothelioma patients in the study (44 percent) were still living. Just as importantly, while some of the patients did experience side effects such as fatigue, nausea, dermatitis, cough and shortness of breath, none of these symptoms were serious and no one died as a result of the treatment.

Lead researcher and radiation oncologist Sameer Jhavar, MD, PhD, concludes, Intensity-modulated radiation therapy following EPP for malignant pleural mesothelioma resulted in relapse-free survival and overall survival comparable to the published literature without significant toxicity.

Just a week earlier, researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York published their own promising results of using hemithoracic IMRT to treat 78 mesothelioma patients after the lung-sparing surgery pleurectomy with decortication (PD) surgery.


Jhavar, S, Intensity modulated radiation therapy after extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma is feasible without fatal pulmonary toxicity and provides good survival, Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, March 29, 2017, Epub ahead of print


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New Evidence Supports Post-Surgical IMRT for Mesothelioma Treatment


Just a week after New York researchers published their own study on radiation therapy and mesothelioma surgery, a group of doctors from Texas has reached a similar conclusion – that highly-targeted radiotherapy can improve mesothelioma survival.


Alex Strauss

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New Evidence Supports Post-Surgical IMRT for Mesothelioma Treatment – Surviving Mesothelioma

Shorter Mesothelioma Survival Linked to High Platelet Count – Asbestos.com

A disorder that forces the body to overproduce platelets is now linked to worsening the prognosis of peritoneal mesothelioma patients, according to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Previous clinical trials associated a high platelet count, also known as thrombocytosis, with poor outcomes for various malignancies. However, the recent study at The Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore is the first to evaluate the clinical significance of thrombocytosis with mesothelioma cancer.

The study, published March 21 in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, analyzed overall survival for peritoneal mesothelioma patients undergoing cytoreduction surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) a common and promising treatment option for the asbestos-related cancer.

Of the 100 patients in the study, those with normal platelet counts lived 45 months longer, on average, compared to patients with elevated platelet counts.

Elevated preoperative platelet count is independently associated with poor outcome, lead researcher Yue C. Li wrote in the study. Notably, thrombocytosis reflects aggressive tumor biology and should be considered a factor in patient selection for CRS and HIPEC.

Peritoneal mesothelioma represents roughly 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases. The cancer develops on the peritoneum, which is the protective lining surrounding the abdomen.

Unlike pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal lacks a formal staging system. Oncologists and researchers are searching for ways to better determine how peritoneal patients will respond to the multimodal approach of cytoreduction and HIPEC.

While heated chemotherapy is administered mostly to patients with peritoneal mesothelioma and other abdominal cancers, some specialty cancer centers are performing a similar procedure on pleural mesothelioma patients.

HIPEC for peritoneal mesothelioma patients delivers heated chemotherapy drugs directly to the abdomen via a small tube. It is typically more effective after cytoreductive surgery, which has the intent of removing the cancerous part of the peritoneum.

Sytemic chemotherapy administered by injection or in pill form is limited for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.

Even if the tumor is responsive to the chemotherapy regimen, the systemic toxicity ultimately reaches a level at which further chemotherapy can no longer be administered, Dr. Sophie Dessureault, a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, told Asbestos.com. Intraperitoneal chemotherapy reached intraperitoneal disease and offers an alternative to systemic therapy for those patients whose disease is limited to the peritoneal cavity.

Still, cytoreduction followed by HIPEC has varying results for patients. The University of Maryland study shines more light on preoperative factors that may affect overall survival.

Patient selection criteria remain ill-defined for this operation that is also associated with significant morbidity and mortality, Li wrote in the study.

We can help you find a top doctor near you who specializes in treating peritoneal mesothelioma.

Platelets are small blood fragments that can assist in blood clotting.

High platelet counts are common, and in many cases, do not produce specific symptoms. However, several studies suggest high platelet counts can increase the aggressiveness of malignant tumors.

There are two categories of high platelet counts:

Blood problems are common with mesothelioma. Many stage 4 pleural mesothelioma patients experience thrombocytosis and anemia (low red blood cell count).

Thrombocytosis is also linked to poor survival in patients with glioblastoma (brain cancer), colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Researchers at Greenebaum discovered similar correlations between thrombocytosis and peritoneal mesothelioma.

The median overall survival of the 100 patients in the study was 32.8 months.

Researchers also noted interval survival times:

Patients with standard platelet counts survived 58 months, on average, compared to just 13 months for those diagnosed with thrombocytosis.

We analyzed various patient and treatment-related factors potentially associated with overall survival, Li wrote in the study. Compared with patients with normal platelet counts, patients with elevated counts had significantly greater residual disease after operation.

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Shorter Mesothelioma Survival Linked to High Platelet Count – Asbestos.com

New Study Affirms Mesothelioma Survival Benefit with Post-Surgical IMRT, According to Surviving Mesothelioma – Benzinga

Texas researchers say targeted radiotherapy can improve outcomes after radical mesothelioma surgery.

Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) April 07, 2017

Scientists in Austin and Temple, Texas say mesothelioma patients who undergo hemithoracic (one-sided) intensity modulated radiotherapy after extrapleural pneumonectomy live longer than those who do not have the treatment, Surviving Mesothelioma has just published an article on the new findings. Click here to read it now.

Doctors at Austin Cancer Centers and Baylor Scott and White Health performed a retrospective analysis of 18 pleural mesothelioma patients who had lung-removing EPP surgery followed by IMRT between 2005 and 2014.

Lead researcher and radiation oncologist Sameer Jhavar, MD, PhD, concludes, “Intensity-modulated radiation therapy following EPP for malignant pleural mesothelioma resulted in relapse-free survival and overall survival comparable to the published literature without significant toxicity.”

According to the report in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, 44 percent of mesothelioma patients in the study were still alive three years after treatment.

“Although this is a small study, the survival results are a hopeful sign for patients considering radical mesothelioma surgery,” says Alex Strauss, Managing Editor for Surviving Mesothelioma.

To read more about the new Texas study and other recent IMRT research in mesothelioma treatment, see New Evidence Supports Post-Surgical IMRT for Mesothelioma Treatment, now available on the Surviving Mesothelioma website.

Jhavar, S, “Intensity modulated radiation therapy after extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma is feasible without fatal pulmonary toxicity and provides good survival,” Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, March 29, 2017, Epub ahead of print, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28371288

For more than a decade, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/04/prweb14224794.htm

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New Study Affirms Mesothelioma Survival Benefit with Post-Surgical IMRT, According to Surviving Mesothelioma – Benzinga

The Key to Mesothelioma Treatment Success with Immunotherapy – Surviving Mesothelioma

Researchers with a biotechnology company that makes antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) for hard-to-treat cancers like malignant mesothelioma say careful patient selection is the key to treatment success.

Writing in the journal Advances in Therapy, John Lambert and Charles Morris of Massachusetts-based ImmunoGen call for the development of a patient selection strategy so that more mesothelioma patients and those with other cancers can take advantage of the power of ADCs.

Many of the most dangerous side effects of mesothelioma treatment happen because standard systemic chemotherapy attacks both malignant and normal cells. But an antibody-drug conjugate is different.

These combination drugs are created by attaching a cancer-fighting agent to an antibody. By using an antibody that is attracted to a target produced specifically by cancer cells, or produced in larger amounts by cancer cells, an ADC can effectively deliver the drug to a mesothelioma tumor without harming the surrounding healthy cells.

This targeted drug delivery system is believed to hold significant promise for intractable cancers like malignant pleural mesothelioma, which rarely responds to standard cancer treatments at the safe dosing levels.

Mesothelin is a protein that is highly expressed in several malignancies, including ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, malignant mesothelioma and some lung cancers.

Mesothelin is especially valuable as a target for mesothelioma treatment because it is primarily expressed by mesothelial cells which make up the membranes where mesothelioma tumors start. These cells, as the authors of the new study point out, are expendable, meaning that their destruction with targeted drugs would not threaten vital organs.

A mesothelin-targeting ADC called anetumab ravtansine developed by Bayer is currently the focus of a multi-center trial as a second-line mesothelioma therapy. Currently, there is no standard therapy for treating mesothelioma patients who fail to respond or who relapse after first-line treatment.

Patient Selection and Effectiveness

A key determinant for how well a person with mesothelioma will respond to treatment with an ADC is the level of the target molecule (such as mesothelin) in their cells. A mesothelioma patient whose cancer cells are expressing high levels of mesothelin is more likely to respond to treatment with a mesothelin-targeting ADC than someone whose cancer does not produce as much.

The development of a patient selection strategy linked to target expression on the tumor is thus critically important for identifying the population appropriate for receiving treatment, conclude Lambert and Morris.

Currently, five ADCs are in pivotal clinical trials for solid tumors. In addition to anetumab ravtansine for mesothelioma, there are ADCs in testing for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, glioblastoma, and small cell lung cancer.


Lambert, JM and Morris, CQ, Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for personalized treatment of solid tumors: A review, March 30, 2017, Advances in Therapy, Epub ahead of print


Article Name

The Key to Mesothelioma Treatment Success with Immunotherapy


Researchers with a biotechnology company that makes antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) for hard-to-treat cancers like malignant mesothelioma say careful patient selection is the key to treatment success.


Alex Strauss

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The Key to Mesothelioma Treatment Success with Immunotherapy – Surviving Mesothelioma

Accelerated Approval Granted to Drug in Mesothelioma Research Pipeline – MesotheliomaHelp.org (blog)

In July, MesotheliomaHelp reported on a phase I clinical trial where various cancers, including mesothelioma, were being tested for the safety and tolerability of the drug avelumab. Now, the maker of the drug reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted accelerated approval to Bavencio (avelumab) for the treatment of patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).

EMD Serono Inc. reports the approval was based on the results of the JAVELIN clinical trial where of 88 patients with MCC who had been previously treated with at least one chemotherapy regimen, 33 percent experienced complete or partial shrinkage of their tumors. The response lasted for more than six months in 86 percent of responding patients and more than 12 months in 45 percent of responding patients, according to the FDA.

The scientific community continues to make advances targeting the bodys immune system mechanisms for the treatment of various types of cancer, Richard Pazdur, MD, of the FDA office of hematology and oncology products, said in a March 23 press release. These advancements are leading to new therapies even in rare forms of cancer where treatment options are limited or non-existent.

Bavencio is an investigational immunotherapy drug that targets the PD-L1 protein. The drug works by blocking signals from PD-L1 tumors, activating the immune system, allowing it to take over and attack and kill cancer cells. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer have formed a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize the drug. This is the first FDA-approved therapy for patients with MCC.

Metastatic MCC is a rare and aggressive skin cancer, with fewer than half of patients surviving more than one year and fewer than 20% surviving beyond five years.

Like MCC, mesothelioma is a rare, orphan disease that is challenging to treat and often recurs in patients. Prognosis for mesothelioma is often less than 18 months. With an initial positive result for mesothelioma patients with this drug in the JAVELIN clinical trial, the mesothelioma community is hoping for continued positive results that could lead to a new treatment for patients with the asbestos-caused cancer.

According to the FDA, Accelerated Approval enables the FDA to approve drugs for serious conditions to fill an unmet medical need using clinical trial data that is thought to predict a clinical benefit to patients.

Bavencio also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

Today is a significant milestone for people fighting metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, who until now have not had any options beyond chemotherapy, said Albert Bourla, Group President, Pfizer Innovative Health in a March 23 press release. This approval demonstrates the power of collaboration to accelerate meaningful new choices for cancer patients.

Pleural mesothelioma is a terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by past exposure to asbestos. The cancer is diagnosed in nearly 3,000 Americans each year.

For more information about the ongoing JAVELIN clinical trial see ClinicalTrials.gov.

Nancy is a blog and content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience. Nancy has been writing about mesothelioma and cancer for close to eight years.

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Accelerated Approval Granted to Drug in Mesothelioma Research Pipeline – MesotheliomaHelp.org (blog)

This Brexit battle is cold, hard capitalism vs. civilised, co-operative order – The New European

PUBLISHED: 21:41 08 April 2017 | UPDATED: 21:41 08 April 2017

A C Grayling

(Illustration by Gary Barker)


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I write these words in the warm autumn of the antipodes, where incredulous Australians and dismayed, distressed and unhappy British expatriates look at the farce, the lunacy, of Brexit from afar, and shake their heads.

I tell them that Brexit will collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions: that is a certainty. But left to itself, the process will involve wasted years and much damage, and therefore all who have the best interests of the UK at heart by wishing to see the UK remain in the European Union, must fight to make the defeat of Brexit happen much sooner.

All who are pro-EU know why they are pro-EU. Despite its flaws and problems, none of them irresolvable in the face of good will and intelligence, the EU is a magnificent and imaginative project aimed at peace, progress and unity. If you look back across the landscape of European history for two thousand years, you notice that in the periods of European unification, first under the Roman Empire, then under the somewhat looser umbrella of Christendom, then since the beginnings of the European Union, Europe has flourished and been largely at peace.

Wars were mainly fought with forces outside the unified area: the Romans had centuries of struggle with barbarian invaders, and Christendom attacked the Muslim world which had overwhelmed an earlier Christian Middle East, in order to regain the faiths holy places.

The chief exceptions in the Christendom era were the long wars between England and France, although in fact these were not international wars but family feuds over the inheritance of what was periodically a single kingdom. There were other civil wars too, but it was not until the Reformation of the sixteenth century split Europe into Protestant and Catholic parts that a chain reaction of fragmentation began, ending with the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648 that created the system of independent nation states which set about a centuries-long sequence of wars against each other until 1945.

Learn the lesson. A unified Europe is a peaceful, progressive, constructive Europe. History proves it, and we have seen it with our own eyes this last half-century and more. Those who divide, who split things up, are the wreckers of peace and progress. In todays UK those wreckers are Theresa May, David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson, and the little gang of Brexiteers behind them who wish to turn the country into a deregulated tax haven for their own profit.

And how quickly peace itself becomes a victim of their ambitions: the absurd Lord Howard and his talk of going to war with Spain over Gibraltar is not an aberration, but a signature of the Brexit mind.

Ponder the tax haven point for a moment, for it relates to a reprise of an old ethical struggle. Market capitalism, if left unregulated, works only in the interests of money and those who have it. The EU works to counterbalance the cruder power of the market by protecting the rights of workers, consumers and the environment, the three things that unbridled capitalism would exploit if it had the chance and which it does exploit whenever it can.

The people behind Brexit the likes of Arron Banks and Jacob Ress-Mogg do not like the idea of a moderate market system that seeks protections and fairness. They talk of a bonfire of regulations the regulations that protect employees, consumers and the environment. They talk about lowering taxes the taxes that pay for those protections, so that they an fill their own pockets even more.

One can acknowledge that the market is the appropriate mechanism for the exchange of goods and services, for finding their price points, for enabling supply to meet demand and demand to incentivise supply. But one can also acknowledge that making the market fair, and protecting it from the depredations of greedy wide-boys who work its angles for their own advantage at the expense of others, is a good and wise thing to do. That is what the EU approach to market capitalism does.

One can acknowledge that people who put energy, talent, good ideas and hard work into what they do merit their rewards. There is no objection in principle to anyones doing well in material terms, or growing rich. What is objectionable is the already-rich manipulating things to get richer at others expense, and refusing their share of a contribution to the common good.

Those behind Brexit are such people. Regulations protecting consumers, employees and the environment cost money to apply. The money comes from taxes. Greedy people do not want to pay those taxes and they do not care about those protections. This is the single, burning, crucial reason why those behind Brexit want Brexit.

The fight between Brexiteers and the EU is therefore an ideological fight. It is a fight between the cruder interests of money and the interests of a civilised, co-operative socio-economic order where there is a balance between unbridled self-interest and the aspiration for a decent inclusive society of shared values and benefits.

Does my earlier imprecation against division and fragmentation apply to Scotland? No: Scotland is being forced into seeking independence from a suicidal England because they wish to remain in the EU, as part of the bigger, better, progressive, forward-looking entity that is the future. With that I wholeheartedly sympathise, and do not think that Scotland and Northern Ireland can quit the United Kingdom soon enough if the Brexiteers get away with their plan.

But they will not be allowed to get away with their plan, because the enormity of Brexit in the literal sense of the much misused term enormity must and will be stopped. There are many routes to stopping it, not least its own internal doom-laden impossibility, which as mentioned above will, if left to itself, do the work well enough. But the point is to stop it sooner rather than later to minimise the damage it is already doing.

One infallible way to stop Brexit in its tracks right now is to get rid of the May Government. Because the Labour Party is a dead dog in a ditch at present, this requires a major realignment of all Remainer MPs in Parliament, who, though in the majority, and though having failed so far by allowing themselves to be dragooned into doing what they know is seriously injurious to their country, have got to find the resolve to overcome the petty tribal affiliations of party politics to save the country.

The task in hand is nothing less than that: saving the country, and thereby saving the future.

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This Brexit battle is cold, hard capitalism vs. civilised, co-operative order – The New European

Time for a rebirth of Zimbabwean politics – Bulawayo24 News (press release) (blog)

The current crisis arresting the country revolves around the leadership question especially the failure to respond to problems including those of the state’s making, it is a clear sign of the broken politics of Jongwe and Munhumutapa buildings.

For close to four decades, Zimbabwe has been dominated by mediocrity, false and corrupt personalities, huge egos, hubris, arrogance, individualism, selfishness and crony capitalism.

It is the People’s Democratic Party’s view that the way we do politics must change; only proper leadership can solve the problems we are facing.

Our state is engulfed in a serious socio-economic crisis causing unpalatable suffering to the Zimbabwean people.

The fact of the matter is that Zimbabwe is in the fourth year of a structural economic recession which the authorities do not understand and are incapable of offering sustainable solutions to stem the same.

The economy is continuously shrinking, predatory fiscal policies have created a huge budget deficit, there is weak export performance, corruption and leakages, lack of competitiveness, lack of meaningful FDI, shrinking diaspora remittances and low levels of capital formation, persistent levels of disserving, have contributed to the crisis.

Our independent calculations reflect that actual GDP for 2015 was -1.8%, -3.8% for 2016 and a projection of -4.8 in 2017.

The state has so far issued out toxic treasury bills to finance the budget deficit which is over 42%.Government has also raided RTGS and NOSTRO accounts at the RBZ as a result a crippling cash crisis has hit the economy.

Long bank queues are now the order of the day, the only attempt by government to deal with the matter was through dubious measures pronounced by the RBZ including a low ceiling on maximum withdrawals and the insanity of introducing the bond note.

In the midst of an amalgamated crisis in Zimbabwe, the situation is compounded by sterile leadership with no ability to provide solutions; the balance sheet of failure is there for everyone to see.

We also note that the ZANUPF government is further crippled by age which is catching up with most senior individuals in the regime.

Mugabe who is still the President at 93 he recently got a wheel chair as a present from his party members who seem to admit that he is too old to walk around his office space.

The rest of his friends are also very old including the ones who are dying to succeed him. A quick look at their ages of a few examples tells the story; Phelekezela Mpoko 77, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa 75, Simon Khaya Moyo 72,Mahofa Mahofa 76, Sydney Sekeramayi 73, Simbarashe Mbengegwi 72, Patrick Chinamasa 70, David Parirenyatwa 67, Ignatious Chombo 65, Kembo Mohadi 68.

Most of these have been in government since 1980, they no longer have anything new to offer. We therefore call for a rebirth of Zimbabwean politics to save the nation from a total collapse. There must be a significant generational change in leadership; even judges are required to retire at the age 70 the same principle must be applied to the executive.

We state in the Agenda for Restoration and Rehabilitation of Electoral Sustainability that there must be a generational coalition in which components from the old movement coalesce with the younger post liberation generations.

Equally important is the fact that the generational equation should be based on the terms and aspirations of the younger generation.

The aim is not to create a modern refined liberation movement but rather a modern democratic entity that will finish the unfinished business of the liberation struggle.

We therefore encourage mobilisation of social movements which as seen in 2016 were driven by young people, networking and collaboration of progressive political and social movements against dictatorship.

There must be national dialogue of stakeholders and the consummation of the social contract, social movements must be involved in resolving the political challenges the country is facing through sustainable policy formulation. Together Another Zimbabwe is Possible

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Time for a rebirth of Zimbabwean politics – Bulawayo24 News (press release) (blog)

Could The Global Community Coexist With A Nuclear Pyongyang … – Daily Caller


North Korea conducted two nuclear tests, 24 missile tests and a ground jet test of a newly developed high-thrust missile engine in 2016. Such flurry of launches indicates new advancements in the rogue nations missile and nuclear weapons program.

Last years unprecedented level of missile tests included a launch of three submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and a test-fire of eight intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missiles. Once deployed for combat use, Pyongyangs SLBMs may incapacitate Seouls preemptive strike (i.e. the Kill Chain) and defense (i.e. KAMD and THAAD) systems that are being developed by the US-ROK forces. Quite a few of the Norths missiles launched last year were fired at a steep angle. For example, the Hermit Kingdom intentionally reduced the range of the Rodong to just 600 km by shooting it higher into the air on July 19, 2016 and announced the next day that the drill was conducted to test missiles for possible strikes against Pohang and Busan, if preemptive U.S. military reinforcements were to arrive in those port cities.

Pyongyang, by testing medium-range projectiles within a limited range by launching them at a sharp angle, showed off its capability to deal a heavy blow to U.S. augmentation forces at South Korean ports in time of emergency. North Koreas march toward a much larger nuclear arsenal with more sophisticated missiles to deliver them is highly likely to continue in 2017. Indeed, this year is off to the races, with three missiles launched and a new inter-continental ballistic missile engine tested to date. Also, there are ominous signs of further nuclear tests.

Unfortunately, nuclear weapons are not the only type of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Pyongyang possesses. On February 13, 2017, Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Koreas absolute leader, was assassinated with VX, one of the most lethal chemical weapons, at Kuala Lumpur airport. This heartless and depraved murder shed new light on North Koreas chemical warfare capabilities, a point familiar to experts in the South.

In fact, the DPRKs pursuit of chemical weapons dates to the 1960s when the regime pushed ahead with its chemical weapons policy, producing and stockpiling various chemical warfare agents (CWA). The North, based on the Soviet Unions technical assistance and agricultural chemicals imported from Japan, has built a strong foundation for chemical weapons production and created a broad range of chemical weapons such as nerve, blister, choking, riot control and blood agents. As of now, nearly all countries around the world have either abolished chemical weapons or been in the process of doing so according to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC); however, North Korea has refused to either sign or accede to the treaty.

Pyongyang has more than 10 chemical weapons production facilities that are disguised as fertilizer, chemical and vinalon plants all across the country. Also, the DPRKs each army corps has a chemical defense battalion, and each division and regiment comes with a chemical defense company and platoon respectively. Leon J. Laporte, Former Commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, during his term, warned that in case the two Koreas engage in an all-out war, one third of the shells initially fired by the North will be chemical-filled ones.

The communist regime, on top of its chemical warfare capabilities, is equipped with world-class biological weapons. At the beginning of the 1960s, the DPRK embarked on a major development program of bacteriological weapons according to Kim Il-sungs order to carry out systematic germ warfare, and today there are well over ten biological weapons production and test facilities covered as hospitals, medical schools, biology and disease control research centers in various cities such as Pyongyang, Jungju and Hamcheon.

The North, without a doubt, has developed a few dozens of biological agents and toxins in the aforementioned facilities, and it is highly likely that Pyongyang has already weaponized anthrax, cholera, plague, smallpox bacilli and botulinum toxins. Biological weapons are banned worldwide by the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), but ten or so countries including Iraq and Libya attempted to create biological weapons, exploiting the loophole of the BWC: in a development process of bio-agents, it is difficult to determine whether they are weaponized anti-personnel agents or those used for protective purposes. The DPRK has run active biological warfare programs through exploiting the ambiguity of the BWC, the only measure the regime joined to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD.

Today, North Korea is suspected to be one of the most dangerous bio-chemical weapons states in the world, possessing 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical and biological agents. Unlike sophisticated weapons, bio-chemical weapons are relatively cheap to produce, and any trained operatives could utilize them to carry out terror attacks. Also, most importantly, the delayed effect of bio-chemical weapons allows for undetected release and ease of escape by those perpetrating such attacks. Therefore, bio-chemical terrors wreak havoc on many and create uncontrollable chaos. In short, Pyongyang has become the worlds ninth nuclear power, the sixth leading country in terms of missile capability and the deadliest bio-chemical state, making it a grave threat to not only the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia but also the entire planet. Could the global community co-exist in peace with this rogue nation?

If the answer is no, the international community should change its response to the DPRKs WMD threat. In this vein, it is very encouraging that President Trump declared an end to Americas policy of strategic patience toward North Korea. Also, it is a welcoming sign that the United States mobilized a special forces unit for large-scale decapitation operation training targeting the leadership in Pyongyang during the recent US-ROK joint Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercises from March 13 to 23.

In addition, the United States Congress should be applauded for tightening the sanctions against North Korea by building bipartisan support for the following bills: H.R.1644 Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act; H.R.479 North Korea State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act of 2017; H.Res.92 Condemning North Koreas development of multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles, and for other purposes; H.Res.223 Calling on the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) to cease its retaliatory measures against the Republic of Korea in response to the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), and for other purposes. Against this backdrop, Beijing should join in Washingtons effort to rein in Pyongyang. China, so far, has aided and abetted the Norths nuclear development while sanctioning the wrong Korea over the deployment of THAAD. Beijing must come to its senses and put an end to its paradoxical Seoul bashing.

See original here:

Could The Global Community Coexist With A Nuclear Pyongyang … – Daily Caller

Letter: Protect the public health officials who protect us – Republican Eagle

Every day innocent people are randomly exposed to germ warfare being waged by the germs themselves. Bacterial, viral and prion diseases are a clear and present danger to at-risk populations. The universal benefits of herd immunity can break down when the vaccination rate in a group goes below 85 to 90 percent. That is happening in some places in Minnesota and at that point, contagious diseases can become epidemic.

Up until now, our county public health departments have been aggressively involved in the “prevention of” and “preparation for” an infectious outbreak. Their task has been compounded by the antibiotic resistance emerging in some of mankind’s oldest threats. Resistant strains of tuberculosis and much anticipated measles, for example, are a sleepless nightmare for our public health professionals.

Recent proposals from Washington to cut funding for public health agencies and programs to help pay for defense spending may cost us our defense against the preventable germ warfare that causes pandemics.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic was the last full blown threat to our public health. Ebola was another. Syphilis, gonorrhea, and especially the swine flu and the bird flu can mutate if we let down our national guard: public health agencies and professionals.

By the way, SCHSAC stands for the “State Community Health Services Advisory Committee.” It also stands for the health of all Minnesotans.

Paul Drotos, Red Wing

Paul Drotos is a Goodhue County commissioner

The rest is here:

Letter: Protect the public health officials who protect us – Republican Eagle

Geoffrey Norman: What Next? After The Syrian Strike – Caledonian Record

What Next? After the strike in Syria

The missile attack against Syria was in retaliation for well, just what, exactly? The straight up answer is simple enough. The Syrian government had indulged in gas warfare against its own citizens. The Syrian government has, of course, been killing Syrians for a long time now. The father of the countrys current dictator once leveled an entire city with artillery in a campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. He then ordered the rubble bulldozed and the bodies entombed in the concrete of the village square.

The number of people killed in the recent gas attack is a fraction of the body count from that action. And the gas killed nowhere nearly so many people as the routine dropping of barrel bombs on civilian targets by the regimes helicopters. The barrels bombs are ordinary 55 gallon fuel drums, filled with explosives and scrap metal. They are anti-personnel weapons in the the truest sense. And no less indiscriminate than gas.

But the world is uniquely appalled by the use of poison gas in war. It was a routine part of the horrors of World War One, which the United States entered one hundred years ago this month. The fighting had been going on for almost three years by then. Stalemate, futility, and butchery characterized the fighting. The goggled eyed, gas masked soldier was its inhuman face.

So when the war ended, at last, the world outlawed the use of poison gas. But what the world could legislate, it was incapable of enforcing. Italy, under the rule of Benito Mussolinis fascists, attempted to re-establish a Roman empire of sorts and went to war in northern Africa. When its Ethiopian campaign stalled, it dropped mustard gas from the air, killing both soldiers and civilians. The world was both appalled and impotent.

As World War Two began, it was widely assumed that the use of gas would be a routine feature of the fighting. The British government expected gas attacks from the air. Citizens of London carried gas masks as they went about their business.

There were no gas attacks on London. Or on soldiers in the field. The Nazis confined their use of gas to the camps where they did the industrialized killing of their political enemies and those they considered their racial inferiors. Especially the Jews.

The Japanese did some tentative work with gas and even with germ warfare. But its use never became what you would call widespread. During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and the United States accumulated huge stockpiles of gas and trained their troops in its use and in how to defend themselves against it.

And, now, there is the mid-East where the Saddam Hussein attacked his own citizens and his Iranian enemies with gas and where the United States went to war to eliminate the threat posed by his weapons on mass destruction. These included, especially, gas, of which none was found or used, though invading American troops were trained and equipped to deal with the gas attacks anticipated by their commanders.

In 2012, President Barack Obama warned that if the Syrian dictator, Assad, were to use weapons of mass destruction against his enemies, it would constitute the crossing of a red line. This, of course, threatened some sort of retaliation. There were gas attacks but no retaliation. A deal was made, in which the Soviet Union, Assads ally, would get the stockpiled gas out of Syria and see to its destruction.

The recent attacks prove, of course, that this didnt happen.

So President Trump has now made good on President Obamas threat. And the question is what next?

If the American action is strictly about gas warfare and enforcing the ban against it, then perhaps it will be successful. Assad may look at the destruction inflicted by American Tomahawk missiles and decide that further gas attacks are not worth such a heavy price. So he will stick to barrel bombs. The killing will go on. No great geopolitical changes will have come about as a result of the American strikes.

But perhaps these strikes are about more than gas. One would hope so, anyway. Perhaps these strikes are a meant to show our enemies to include Russia and Iran that we are serious and that we will use force when it is called for.

Well, when some vital national interest or, even, our survival is at stake. Those are the reasons for going to war and they had best be clear cut. Going to war to make others fight like gentlemen is as foolish as going to war to make the world safe for democracy.

Which is what we did 100 years ago.

And we know how well that worked out.

Continued here:

Geoffrey Norman: What Next? After The Syrian Strike – Caledonian Record

Amherst College announces the Mammoths as first official mascot … – Boston.com

After officially dumping their unofficial mascot last year, Amherst College announced the schools first official mascot Monday. And it turns out that Russian scientists arent the only ones who want to bring back woolly giants from the Ice Age.

Thats correct after more than 9,000 votes from alumni, students, and faculty, Amherst Colleges new mascot is the Mammoths.

School officialsannouncedthey would be solicitingsuggestions for a mascot last October. In January 2016, thecollege decided to stop referencing their longtime unofficial moniker, Lord Jeff, amid student protests over the eponymous 18th-century British generalsadvocacy of using of smallpox as germ warfare against Native Americans.

Amherst College finds itself in a position where a mascotwhich, when you think about it, has only one real job, which is to unifyis driving people apart because of what it symbolizes to many in our community, Cullen Murphy, the chair of the schools board of trustees, said at the time.

Following more than 2,000 mascot submissions last fall (includingstrong pushes for Moose and Hamster, the latter of which is an anagram of Amherst), aselect group of alumni and students eventually narrowed it down to five finalists: the Fighting Poets, the Mammoths, Purple and White, the Valley Hawks, and the Wolves.

Over 11 days in late March, the Mammothswon out with4,356 of 9,295 total votes.

You thought they were extinct? Think again, the school said in an announcement video Monday.

In a statement announcing the decision Monday, the school cited submissions that characterizedthe prehistoric creatureas an impressive, stupendous and monumental and near mythic mascot optionthat would speak to Amherst as fierce competitors but also highly social, herbivorous animals suggesting gentleness.

They also noted that Amherst CollegesBeneski Museum of Natural History houses a Colombian mammoth skeleton (pictured in the above video) that was discovered by one of the schools professors.

Affection for Amherst and belief in what our College represents motivated our committee during this entire process and we welcome the mammoths as the new mascot for Amherst College, the schools mascot selection committee wrotein a statement.

According to the school, the new mascot will debut this upcoming fall.

Itll be quite the matchup if Amherst ever travels out to compete against Indiana UniversityPurdue University Fort Wayne.

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Amherst College announces the Mammoths as first official mascot … – Boston.com

Insight: The Oppression Of Expression Under Emperor Christie – Bahamas Tribune

The government continues to confuse its role as public servant with demigod status, evidence of a tyrannical style of leadership says Malcom J Strachan . . .

The era in which we exist today allows us to participate in a more informed society.

Regular citizens have become active in voicing their opinions about the issues plaguing the country.

During the current administrations tenure, we have certainly been plagued by more than our fair share of issues.

We are watching our beautiful piece of paradise become a wasteland – under siege from a crime wave, corruption, hopelessness, rising unemployment, a failing economy, decrease in home ownership and an education system that is failing our youth.

Bahamians are understandably irate at the decline of their overall quality of life.

With most of the world climbing out of the ruins of the 2008-09 Great Recession, the Bahamas is still trying to stagger its way back to economic stability.

The former opposition party and now governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) blazed the campaign trail with a laundry list of promises that was music to the ears of many Bahamians who desired change. The PLPs promises to essentially be the anti-Free National Movement government is what led to them becoming its replacement.

Retrospectively, despite the majority of the electorate buying into the PLPs vision for the Bahamas circa 2012, we have been taken for a ride.

Crime has gotten considerably worse. Murders under the PLP have far eclipsed the 490 that were plastered on billboards around the island during their previous campaign season – Saturdays fatal shooting in Freeport, which was the 40th murder in the first three months of 2017, took the total under the Christie administration to 609, according to The Tribunes records.

While there may be a direct correlation between the level of youth unemployment and the rise in crime, the government has been more concerned with throwing national parties, costing in excess of $60m through Carnival and other distractions.

This is a far cry from the party that proclaimed that they believed in Bahamians. The mortgage relief programme designed to reverse the effects of mortgage foreclosures and save the middle class, per the PLPs 2012 Charter for Governance, has failed miserably.

The PLP implemented Value-Added Tax (VAT) and promised that revenue from it would be used to reduce our national debt. Oddly enough, after accumulating $1.14bn in VAT since 2014, the national debt that was projected to be $5bn after the 2012-2013 fiscal year is now a whopping $7bn. The Prime Ministers most recent report on VAT has not satisfied most thinking Bahamians. However, Mr Christie would dare say that his report should silence those that lack confidence in his words. The countrys self-proclaimed economically savvy government have crashed this ship into four credit downgrades – highlighted by a weak economy, still overly-dependent on tourism and shuttered hotel projects. Despite these realities that Bahamians experience every day, the government still arrogantly suggests that it has done a good job.

It continues to confuse its role as public servant with demigod status; either patronising us with more undelivered promises or becoming hostile under questioning from the public.

The latest to suffer under this governments tyrannical style of leadership is political activist, Omar Archer. Archers unfiltered and controversial style of exposing the government has led him to becoming quite popular in the country of late. Prominent members of society, particularly the Prime Minister, have been in Archers crosshairs, as he has been leaking startling information and threatened to expose more officials from the PLP, as well as the Democratic National Alliance. We knew it was only a matter of time before this was all going to come to a screeching halt.

On Friday, Archer was arrested. A warrant was put out for his arrest for allegedly being in possession of an unlicenced firearm. The warrant was issued after a photograph of Archer was posted on Facebook holding a shotgun in 2013. To think that the photo, which had been online for four years, would only provoke police action at this time after Archers trashing of the government should concern Bahamians throughout this country. The firearm, as Archer had previously posted, was licenced, but that did not stop the authorities from seeking his capture.

While we would not seek to infer any political motives to the actions of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, it is concerning that Archers arrest has taken place at this time. After all, he, like all of us, should be free to speak our minds, to challenge authority and speak truth to power.

Article 23. (1) of our Constitution speaks to our right of freedom of speech:

Except with his consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, and for the purposes of this Article the said freedom includes freedom to hold opinions, to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.

Those on the frontlines have not been the only people that the government has been trying to suppress. Facebook activism has become one of the mechanisms by which many groups of regular citizens voice their displeasure with the way the country is being run.

The PLP has had to double down on their public relations efforts and deploy operatives in the social sphere to disparage those who would dare to speak ill against the Emperor and his court. Much to the fury of the people, the government sought to quietly table the Interception of Communications Bill under the guise of a crime fighting measure. Most fair-minded Bahamians see this as a ploy by the government to allow them to legally spy on our phone calls and emails without our knowledge or permission.

We are living within a system that allows for the oppression and punishment of its citizenry for challenging the autocratic PLP-styled leadership, despite our constitutional rights.

We, as a people, need to remove the veil from our eyes. Perry Christie has been in political office for as long as half the country has been alive, and he still wants to add another five years to his resume. The PLP is proving to be relentless in its mission to retain power. Technology has allowed information to circulate around the country much faster than in previous election cycles, presenting an obvious difficulty for a government that is not transparent and accountable.

Therefore, the PLP has one weapon at its disposal – it must tarnish the image of anyone that dares to challenges it. That is why the work of civic groups and activist groups, such as We March, are so important. That is why you, the average citizen, are so important. You control this country – not the politicians. We must remind them of this fact, over and repeatedly, before its too late.

Comments and responses to insight@tribunemedia.net

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Insight: The Oppression Of Expression Under Emperor Christie – Bahamas Tribune

Anti-divestment ideas are latest in long trend of oppression – The Badger Herald

The Students for Justice in Palestine held a rally in July denouncing the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Courtesy of SJP

Anti-Semitic. Hateful. Divisive. Disgusting.

These were all words I heard as descriptions for the Associated Students of Madisonresolution targeting companies that profit off the oppression of black and brown bodies. Over and over again, Ive heard how this resolution would divide our campus, how it would bring about hatred and how it would particularly ruin job prospects for business students.

I could not help but notice the perpetual hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance exhibited by critiques of the resolution.

How each person whohad a qualm with the resolutionscritique of Israeli companieshad no words for the companies that profited off free labor from black menin our prisons. How no one who thought the bill was hateful addressed the hateful and brutal treatment of our Latinand indigenous brothers and sisters who face oppression at the hands of companies building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico borderto the Dakota Access Pipeline. How few people who described Israel as a beacon of light and a democracy addressed the very true and real dehumanization of Palestine people by the Israeli government. Time and time again, these narratives ignored the marginalized communities.

Students for Justice in Palestine speaker on postponed divestment proposal: Vote yesAfter a series of performances centered around social justice, Palestinian-American poet and writerRemi Kanazi discussed this weeks proposal to the Read

I, as an ally to my Palestinian brothers and sisters, should not be labeled as an anti-Semite for challenging the policies in place that demonize Palestinians each and every day. What about acknowledging and condemning police brutality, restrictions on mobility, building of illegal settlements and countless other human rights violations in Israel makes me an anti-Semite? Am I hateful for condemning the treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli court system? It is alarming that any critique or voice opposition against cruel policies is faced with erasure and silencing.

As a blackwoman, empty messages of solidarity with the blackcommunity to justify arguments echoed across the room repeatedly. The hypocrisy of those who cheered and clapped when speakers hollowly chanted Black Lives Matter after ignoring the oppression of blackbodies in the resolution was blinding. Individuals lectured a black council member on how Israel invented the Black Lives Matter movement when the systematic oppression of Ethiopian black Jews through police brutality and forced sterilization of women is well-documented.

As a minority student on this campus, I have seen this divisiveness play a role in every situation that arises when marginalized students voice their concerns. When students marched on campus after the police-involved shootings ofMike Brown and Eric Garner, other students opposed it, saying Black Lives Matter was hateful and divisive to our campus and to white students.

ASM indefinitely postpones divestment resolution after hours of heated debateAfter six hours of heated debate, the University of Wisconsin Associated Students of Madison voted 13-12-1 to postpone aresolutiondemanding the Read

While I agree with the sentiment that hostility will not be the solution to these polarized problems, I am quite fed up with the hollow cries of dialogue and discussion. When our well-being and life is not valued on a basic level, no amount of dialogue or coffee discussions will fix the problem at hand.

When a speaker could not even utter the name Palestine and essentially erased the narrative and experiences of my Palestinian brothers and sisters, what form of dialogue will move that situation forward?

Black and browncommunities constantly have to play safe when addressing issues pertaining to their own well-being and survival. My Palestinian brothers and sisters cant critique the very government that treats them like second-class citizens without being labeled as an anti-Semite. My blackbrothers and sisters cant chant black lives matter without being labeled as radical or divisive. My indigenous brothers and sisters are often left out of the narrative entirely and met with the same labels of divisiveness.

Time and time again, our oppression is left on the back burner for being too divisive, too controversial and too much of a burden to handle at the current political time. We are constantly told now is not the time, this is not the appropriate place, this is not the appropriate strategy.

Naman Siad ([emailprotected]) is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin law school. She also sits on ASM.

Read more:

Anti-divestment ideas are latest in long trend of oppression – The Badger Herald

Mexico Enlists US and UN Observers for War on Drugs – teleSUR English

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Local Prosecutors Have the Power to Resist Jeff Sessions’ Push for Stricter Drug Laws – Slate Magazine

In Texas, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has drawn a direct line between marijuana arrests and the overburdened criminal justice system.

Harris County

When Kim Ogg ran for district attorney in Harris County, Texas, she pitched herself as a progressive whod change the war on drugs ideology that has clogged the county jail with nonviolent marijuana users. Upon her election, Ogg made good on that promise, announcing a program that will allow county residents caught with 4 ounces or less of marijuana to stay out of jail in exchange for taking a four-hour, $150 class on decision-making. The new district attorney estimates the program will divert 12,000 people from jail each year and save the county, which includes the city of Houston, more than $10 million annually.

For a long time, Houston was known for its incredibly harsh drug penalties. Oggs predecessor, Devon Anderson, was also known for prosecuting trace cases, in which a minuscule amount of cocaine is detected, as felonies. Anderson launched a meek diversion programit was open only to first-time offenders who possessed less than 2 ounces of marijuanaafter Ogg first presented her own plan during her unsuccessful 2014 district attorney campaign. Ogg, by contrast, has drawn a direct line between marijuana arrests and the overburdened criminal justice system. At 107,000 cases over the last 10 years, we have spent in excess of $250 million collectively prosecuting a crime that has produced no tangible evidence of improved public safety, she told reporters in February.

The Harris County district attorney isnt going out on a limb here. Local law enforcement, including Harris Countys sheriff and the Houston police chief, advised her on the diversions programs design and support its implementation. One of the reasons [Harris County jail] is costly is because we cant manage the population we have, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said during a local media interview about marijuana policy. The war on drugs has been a failed policy for over 40 years. We tried it. It didnt work. We need a new direction.

Oggs progressive platform also extends to bail reform. Since taking office, she has directed prosecutors in her office to release people awaiting trial for misdemeanor offenses on their own recognizance rather than relying on a cash-bail system that leaves the less affluent no choice but to lose their freedom.

This approach to low-level offenses comes at a time when the federal government seems poised to crack down on marijuana under the false guise of public safety. In a speech about violent crime, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the drug only slightly less awful than heroin. During his tenure as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, 40 percent of the convictions from Sessions office were for drug offenses. Sessions recent comments about marijuana were also in step with Trumps law-and-order presidential campaign, which relied on fearmongering rhetoric and misleading statistics about rising violent crime rates.

Anxiety around the tension between state and federal marijuana laws is nothing new. Though the Obama Department of Justice was less overtly hostile toward marijuana reform than Sessions has been thus far, the Obama administration did oversee numerous busts and raids of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

The tension between federal and local authority here stems from the fact that both have the authority to enforce drug laws. Historically, the federal government has depended on states to enforce laws prohibiting low-level drug use, although the feds are technically well within their rights to enforce federal laws prohibiting such use.

As public opinion shifts dramatically toward support of legalization and decriminalization, district attorneys are paying attention.

In practice, the existence of programs like Oggs demonstrates the power that local district attorneys maintain when it comes to reform. The choice to prosecute low-level marijuana offensesor notremains in the hands of local prosecutors, and many local officials are choosing to move forward with reform efforts that are not in keeping with the harsh rhetoric emanating from the Trump White House and the Sessions Department of Justice.

In Nueces County, Texas, home to Corpus Christi, newly elected district attorney Mark Gonzalez announced plans in January to stop sending people to jail if theyre caught with 2 ounces or less of marijuana. Instead, county residents will have the option to take a drug class and pay a $250 fine. Those who cant afford the fine can perform 25 hours of community service instead. And this program isnt limited to first-time offenders: People in Nueces County wont be looking at jail time for a second or third marijuana-related arrest.

Local officials, too, remain free to side with the Sessions approach if they so choose. D.A. Brett Ligon of Montgomery County, Texas, north of the Houston area, was quick to express his disgust with Oggs diversionary efforts, telling reporters in February that his turf will not become a sanctuary for dope smokers.

In Arizona, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall campaigned against a proposition to legalize medical marijuana in spite of the initiative garnering support from 57 percent of voters. In the time that LaWall, who is serving her sixth term, has been in office, the percentage of black, Latino, and Native American residents in the county jail has skyrocketed. When pressed to discuss the racial disparities in the incarcerated population, as well as the large percentage of nonviolent drug offenders, LaWall said in April 2016 that the right people are in prison.

Then theres former county prosecutor Aaron Negangard of Dearborn County, Indiana, who last year told the New York Times that he is proud of the fact that we send more people to jail than other countries and (in the spirit of Sessions) believes that marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin.

Oggs policy will likely reduce arrests and prosecutions for marijuana use and possession, but it wont be a panacea. Consider the case of Brooklyn, New York, where former District Attorney Ken Thompson announced in 2014 that his office would stop prosecuting some low-level marijuana offenses. That same year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and thenPolice Commissioner William Bratton announced that the New York Police Department would begin issuing summonses instead of making arrests for low-level marijuana possession. A failure to appear in court for a summons triggers an arrest warrant. According to Harry Levine, a Queens College professor of sociology who has collected and studied data on marijuana arrests in New York City, there are now 1.5 million open criminal, arrestable warrants for noncriminal offenses. The system continues to produce arrests as a matter of course, said Levine.

If Harris County residents who are diverted out of the jail system fail to pay their fines or show up for decision-making classes, will the county issue criminal arrest warrants? (Oggs office has not responded to requests for comment.) In New York City, Levine notes, blacks and Latinos have been disproportionately targeted for drug offenses. In Harris County, too, black residents are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. Theres absolutely no attempt [in New York or Harris County] to remedy the massive racial disparities, which are at the heart of this thing, said Levine.

While marijuana legalization and decriminalization campaigns have done little to address the disproportionate arrests of blacks and Latinos across the country, a decline in arrest rates for drug offenses doesnt just benefit white marijuana users. One common myth pushed by district attorneys who oppose decriminalization and legalization is that marijuana use contributes to rising crime rates. But places that have taken these steps have seen no such increase. In Colorado, property crime and homicide rates actually dropped slightly in the two years after marijuana was legalized. And in Washington, violent crime rates fell by 10 percent between 2011 and 2014. Both states legalized marijuana in 2012.

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Congratulations to Drugs, for winning the War on Drugs. More…

The legalization movement in Washington was preceded in 2003 by a Seattle initiativethe first of its kind in the countryto make marijuana possession the lowest enforcement priority for the Seattle Police Department. Marijuana-related arrests, prosecutions, and jail sentences were reduced by 67 percent in 2004, and property and violent crime didnt rise in tandemnumbers that paved the way for the state to fully legalize marijuana less than a decade later. Dominic Holden, who led the campaign for the Seattle initiative, faced strong opposition from City Attorney Tom Carr. After the campaign won, Carr continued to push back against Holden. The blowback finally stopped in 2009 when the city attorney was defeated in a re-election campaign by an opponent who ran on a plan to stop low-level marijuana arrests and prosecutions. Politicians are afraid of looking soft on crime or drugs, so you have to create a punishment that is worse than that, said Holden. You have to create an environment that makes it toxic to their career to be accused of wasting resources for their office by punishing otherwise law-abiding, productive citizens [for marijuana offenses].

Twenty-six states plus D.C. have now legalized marijuana in some form, whether for medical or recreational use. As of last fall, 57 percent of Americans were in favor of legalizing marijuana, according to the Pew Research Center. As public opinion shifts dramatically toward support of legalization and decriminalization, district attorneys like Ogg are paying attention. Her win in a county that has historically opted for conservative candidates signals a shift that more hard-line prosecutors would be wise to heed. Voters are ready to elect prosecutors who recognize marijuana isnt a threat to public safety. District attorneys who dont understand that will get a good sense of the will of the people when they lose on Election Day.

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Local Prosecutors Have the Power to Resist Jeff Sessions’ Push for Stricter Drug Laws – Slate Magazine

PNP seeks help of village officials in war on drugs – Inquirer.net

PNP Chief Ronald De La Rosa. EDWIN BACASMAS

President Dutertes top enforcer in his war on drugs is appealing for help from a group of barangay officials, saying their support is crucial to the success of the campaign.

Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, Philippine National Police chief, told members of the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (Philippine League of Barangays) that he was taking exception to damaging remarks made by Western media and First World officials about human rights abuses committed during the campaign.

If he were not a believer, he would have lost faith in it, too, as a result of these criticisms. he said.

The group brings together all village officials in the country. But Mr. Duterte, according to his officials, want the next elections for barangay officials scrapped because at least 40 percent of them are involved in drugs.

The President wants to appoint village officials instead to weed out those with involvement in drugs. Elections would be futile, the President was quoted as saying, because drug syndicates would simply finance those they wanted to win.

Dela Rosa, taking a cue from his boss, launched a tirade at critics of the high death toll of the war, including foreign officials and groups that denounce alleged human rights abuses committed in the antidrug campaign.

Saving lives

But he took a less harsh description of victims of drug abuse, saying they need help and should not be killed instantly. In contrast, Mr. Duterte has described drug addicts as hopeless.

The first phase of the PNP campaign, composed of Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel, was suspended following reports of abuses, including one involving the killing of a South Korean businessman by policemen in the guise of an antidrug operation.

It has been relaunched and given new namesOplan Tokhang Revisited and Double Barrel Reloaded.

Dela Rosa said he would not retreat from the war on drugs, the centerpiece program of the Duterte administration, which the President repeatedly said was what the people wanted when he was elected on a campaign platform to eradicate the drug menace.

Foreign critics dont matter

I do not care what the Europeans, the Americans say, Dela Rosa said. What I care about is what the ordinary Filipinos are saying, that they are happy with what were doing. I work for the Filipino people. I dont work for these foreigners.

The PNP chief said he considered the first Oplan Tokhang a success because of the support of the villages.

Your clamor for the resumption of the drug war paved the way for the PNP to go back to the front line and resume operations, he said. We are now urging the strong and active support of barangays in the antidrug war.

Among the revised rules of the PNP operations is a requirement for village officials to be present when police conduct Oplan Tokhang. I am happy that you will be with us in the house-to-house visitations, Dela Rosa told the Liga.

He, however, said the group should be instrumental in reducing the number of deaths in the war on drugs by encouraging drug users to enter rehabilitation.

He recalled seeing a group of drug users, who surrendered in Bacolod City, and pitying them as they had turned to be like zombies.

Shoot first

But he said if law enforcers lives were put in danger during an antidrug operation, they had no choice but protect themselves, meaning shoot first.

Double Barrel Reloaded, he said, had led to the surrender of 55,406 suspects, arrest of 6,205 and killing of 82 in what he said were legitimate police operations.

Dela Rosa admitted that the first phase of the campaign had been abused by rogue officers.

He said the rules in the antidrug campaign had been revised to prevent abuses. These include limiting the involvement of police officers in Oplan Tokhang operations to provincial police chiefs in rural areas and police station commanders in cities.

Lets please be vigilant so we wont have problems anymore, Dela Rosa said. Let us, however, be reminded that these visitations and the entire drug war entail more than just complying with a commitment to win this war.

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PNP seeks help of village officials in war on drugs – Inquirer.net

Ice and Busts: The Lost War on Drugs in Australia | Global Research … – Center for Research on Globalization

It was hard to tell whether Australias Federal Police authorities, along with their Victorian colleagues, were gloating at their latest effort. Thrilled at the unearthing of a stash of methamphetamine, a form of it colloquially known as ice, trumpeted as the biggest seizure in Australian history, there was a sense of achievement. They had gotten one up on the drugs gangs, inflicting a blow to the narcotics trade. Celebrate!

Such celebrations, however, are misplaced. For one, they seemed to follow similar celebrations in February, when $1 billion worth of liquid methamphetamine, concealed in gel push-up bra inserts, were uncovered.

Do these seizures suggest that the police and various enforcement authorities are gaining the upper hand, or perhaps foot dragging before ever enterprising and novel ways of adding to the narcotics market?

A stash of 903 kg of methamphetamines is certainly a remarkable quantity, secreted in boxes of wooden floorboards in an inconspicuous part of east Melbourne. We located 70 boxes of floorboards, chirped AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan. In each of them was concealed between the floorboards two kilograms of methamphetamine.

But this suggests that there might well be much more, a drugs economy that is thriving in a hot house of high demand. Even Justice Minister Michael Keenan has conceded this point, noting that Australia has become one of the most lucrative markets for drug trade in the western world.

Tones of scolding severity duly follow when the phenomenon of drugs consumption is examined, notably among the researchers most interested in those habits of gradual yet mesmerising decay.

There is no doubt Australia has a culture, especially among our young people, which does not see the taking of illicit substances or binge drinking as particularly detrimental to the health, claimed Professor Harvey Whiteford of the University of Queensland in 2013.

The police also annotate such findings with their suspicions about the inner drug devil in many an Australian. As Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Smith of the New South Wales Drug Squads Chemical Operation Unit claims with a Presbyterian fury, 1.3 million people in Australia have tried ice. Some of your friends and members of your family would have to have tried ice. The horror, the horror.

Last month, researchers released findings after examining, somewhat unglamorously, wastewater across 51 sites only to find that methylamphetamine was the most consumed illicit drug in the country. It topped the premier league table of items, beating a range of other contenders such as heroin and cocaine.

For such reasons, this is a battle, if not a poorly described war, that is unwinnable against basic human wishes and market demand. Experimentation and temptation is all, and the world of testing is becoming more diverse than ever. Law and medical authorities are desperate to stifle the interest, and are failing. The central problem is the nagging obsession with drugs as a matter of law and order.

Those participating in the market know this better than anybody else. Even Gaughan concedes with detectable admiration that the methods of novelty in this case on the part of the drug traders were considerable. (One has to beef up the opposition to show your own efforts are worthwhile.)

You can appreciate the concealment method used in this particular activity is quite complex, quite unique. It wasnt something we had seen previously.

The sentiment is often noted.

The battle against drugs was lost in the United States at enormous cost, becoming a continental affair of devastating consequences to security and welfare. Other countries, lagging in efforts to legalise certain drugs and attempts to control the narcotics market, find themselves at the losing end. Warring against desire and instinct eventually unravels. The cartels, and those connected with the prison industrial complex, profit.

It is precisely for such reasons that Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs, whatever their rank of severity, in 2001. The result? Portugal has 3 drug overdose deaths for every million citizens. The EU average, by way of contrast, is 17.3 per million.

In Australia, a few politicians have decided to shift the emphasis. The Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, himself a former drugs and alcohol doctor, convinced his party in 2016 to abandon absolute opposition to the legalisation of illicit drugs.

Its time we recognise this as a health problem not a law and order one. We have to have an open, honest conversation about this and stop pretending were winning this war.

Whether it is the heavy hand of the law, or some clumsy variant of it, the campaign against drugs is simply going the way of those who cash in on it, a vast sprawl of vested interests. In the end, the very existence of the police and the enforcement complex thrives on such spectacles, on the illusion of safety and security. As this happens, sickness prevails as the money runs out the door.

In the meantime, lawyers and members of the public will be treated to the picture of overly enthusiastic ministers and police commissioners keen to get the message across that arrests are taking place and drugs seized with dedicated efficiency. During such a process, the rule of law is bound to take a battering, not least of all the presumption of innocence. Grainy images of various suspected figures are already doing the rounds through the papers.

The ministers traffic in votes and illusions, and finding drugs provides a false incentive for both. What is needed, as The Age editorial surmised in November last year, is a policy in favour of a harm minimisation strategy based on decriminalisation, regulation and education.Paramilitary approaches should be ditched, and resources channeled into health. Portugal, not the United States, should be seen as the model here.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMITUniversity, Melbourne. Email: [emailprotected]




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Ice and Busts: The Lost War on Drugs in Australia | Global Research … – Center for Research on Globalization

Trump’s Opioid Plan and the Bones of the War on Drugs – Pacific Standard

The administrations opioid plan gives us a sobering reminder of which lives have been marked as worthier than others.

By Krish Lingala

Throughout his insurgent campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump spoke about the nations growing opioid epidemic, vowing to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country. While these statements aligned with President Trumps unsurprisingly tough stance on immigration, they also spoke to the real concerns of many rural, white voters who broke for Trump in states like Maine and West Virginia. On Wednesday, Trump appeared to make good on his promises to those voters, announcing that he will create a commission to address opioid addiction, an initiative to be led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The commissions primary task, Trump said, will be to prepare a report on the state of the issue, and to offer recommendations for how the government can respond.

This disappointed drug policy experts who see the commission as a retread of Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthys landmark report on addiction. The report, the first of its kind from the surgeon generals office, attracted widespread media attention for proposing major changes to government drug policy when it was released last December. Previously, government policies often exacerbated the issue by ignoring modern scientific understandings of drug abuse. Ignoring that report and starting from scratch is a disheartening approach to an urgent issuethousands of people die each year from opioid overdoses, and the number is rising.

But this lack of urgency isnt whats most damning, at least not on its own. Whats particularly concerning is how this shines a light on the Trump administrations uninformed drug policy in general, and rattles the bones of the federal governments controversial War on Drugs.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for instance, is a fierce critic of marijuana legalization, stating that if the government does not send a message that good people dont smoke marijuana, rates of heroin and cocaine use could rise as well. Last month, a study found that states that legalized medical marijuana may have reduced the number of opioid-related hospitalizations. But this month, Sessions renewed his commitment to fighting drug abuse through tough criminal justice policy in statements to law enforcement.

Amid this rhetoric, the decision to appoint Christie, an outspoken advocate for a public-health approach to opioid addiction, is a welcome sign for drug policy experts. In New Jersey, Christie tackled opioid addiction with compassion, signing a Good Samaritan law to protect drug users when they report an overdose and expanding access to addiction treatment. But Sessions presence on the commission and proposals like the now-defunct American Health Care Act, which would have cut $100 million in block grants for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, make the administrations stance on the issue unclear.

To understand why, look no further than Trumps incendiary 2015 campaign announcement speech, in which he warned that Mexican immigrants are bringing drugs. Theyre bringing crime. Trumps tough-on-drugs rhetoric is recognizablepart of the inglorious history of the War on Drugs, launched by President Richard Nixon in the 1970s. But his decision to temper that rhetoric with compassionate understanding for the largely white communities affected by the opioid epidemic betrays the toxic racial undertones of the governments long-standing anti-drug policies. One Nixon aide brazenly pointed to these racist motivations in an interview with Harpers, published last April:

You can trace a similarly insidious pattern today. In October, for instance, Trump touted addiction services and better treatment for the people at his New Hampshire rally, while simultaneously decrying President Barack Obamas decision to commute the sentences of low-level drug offenders, often black and brown citizens.

This double standard is more evident now that opioids are ravaging white communities. But it has always been present. In the 1980s, as crack-cocaine flooded inner cities, the news media responded with hysteria over crack babies, while the Reagan administration pushed to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1989, adopting strict mandatory minimums with wildly disparate penalties for crack and powder cocaine. Of course, crack is more commonly used in poor, black communities than its more expensive, powder counterpart. Eight years later, when Congressional Black Caucus members pushed President Bill Clinton to provide drug treatment and economic assistance in his landmark crime bill, he ignored their voices and sought the votes of conservative Republicans pushing against welfare for criminals.

Now, as people like Christie speak with compassion and understanding for opioid addicts, the question remains: Where was this compassion for black people?

The answer, again, is troubling, and it likely lies with Nixon and the War on Drugs. The government has spent over 40 years promoting anti-drug propaganda and criminalizing those who use and sell drugs, but the reasons why have never held up. If marijuana is too dangerous for recreational consumption, why are more deadly drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, not? If the government truly wants to eradicate cocaine use, why are white Wall Street executives and college fraternity brothers not behind bars?

While its no small thing that the Trump administration is taking an explicit stand on the opioid crisisindeed, this is one of the few drug crises where people arent being blamed for their addictionits also important for us to take stock of history. The administrations opioid plan allows us to hold the past up to the light of the present. And what we see, in this particular case, is a sobering reminder of which lives have been marked as worthier than othersand how that decision has all too often followed a persistent color line.

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Trump’s Opioid Plan and the Bones of the War on Drugs – Pacific Standard

Exploring the link between police violence and the war on drugs – WGN Radio

WGN Radio
Exploring the link between police violence and the war on drugs
WGN Radio
Host and producer Christopher Johnson and co-producer Derek L. John join Justin to discuss the new Audible audio documentary series, 100:1 The Crack Legacy. Derek and Christopher talk about where this project began, the origins of the crack epidemic …

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Exploring the link between police violence and the war on drugs – WGN Radio